Facebook is rolling out ads on its Stories platform for the first time as it anticipates more brands embracing vertical mobile in ad campaigns.
From today, advertisers will be able to start booking campaigns on Facebook Stories, its alternative social media feed that relies on pictures and video rather than text-based messaging seen in the News Feed.
Steve Hatch, Facebook’s managing director for northern Europe, told Campaign UK that creative agencies in particular were "embracing" vertical video ad formats as mobile becomes more established in the media plan.
"We’ve been hearing back from the creative community about changes they’re making in the production process… for example, often you will get monitors being tilted 90 degrees so they can view the shot in vertical and how it will look on mobile."
Same UX, more reach
Today’s launch comes after months of testing on Facebook Stories by brands, including KFC, Deliveroo, PureGym and TransferWise, which is now putting 20% of its social spend on Stories after tripling its reach within three months.
Hatch revealed that Facebook regularly holds "Story sprints" with media agencies and clients, where a brief is answered and assets are produced quickly. One of these "sprints" is being held for a major grocer for its upcoming Christmas ad campaign.
Facebook Stories are similar to the Stories feature on sister social sites Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp in that the stories disappear after 24 hours. Ephemeral messaging was a key differentiator for rival Snapchat, which launched Snapchat Stories in 2013.
Facebook first launched Stories on Instagram in 2016 and enabled advertising on Instagram Stories last year.
In terms of functionality, Hatch confirmed the user experience would be the same for ads shown across Facebook's other Stories platforms, while advertisers can syndicate the same ads across Facebook, Instagram and Messenger.
"The advertiser is buying experence. We’re not asking people to learn new behaviour – it’s a great way for them to increase reach and the value they can get by being creative, which creates a greater level of confidence to start trialling and experiement – that can be in an organic way or an advertising way," Hatch said.
AR you paying attention?
Turning Facebook Stories into an ad revenue stream is the latest stage in the social media giant’s plot to own the next stage of mobile consumption, which it believes will be driven by greater take-up of augmented reality and virtual reality. Facebook has also commissioned research by Ipsos that found 68% of people say they use Stories on "at least three apps regularly" and that 62% of people became more interested in a brand after seeing it in a Story.
Last year, Facebook hired a core team of developers to work specifically on AR and VR, and brands will be encouraged to sponsor AR and VR filters that are becoming increasingly popular. Hatch himself said he uses AR in Messenger chats with his daughter, with her portrayed as an elf and him a rabbit.
It is currently testing a "camera effects platform" with a small group of advertisers. Facebook is also considering paid ways for businesses to take part in this.